Professional certification is the voluntary process by which a non-governmental entity grants a time-limited recognition and use of a credential to an individual after verifying that he or she has met predetermined and standardized criteria.* The ICRM’s Certified Records Manager is a professional certification.

certificate program is a training program on a specialized topic for which participants receive a certificate after completing the course and passing an assessment instrument.

The chart below compares the distinction between certificate and certification.

Certificate Certification
Results from an educational process. Results from an assessment process such as exams.
For both newcomers and experienced professionals alike. Typically requires some amount of professional experience and education.
Awarded by educational program providers or institutions. Awarded by a third party, standard-setting organization.
Indicates completion of a course or series of courses with specific focus; is different than a degree granting program. Indicates mastery/competency as measured against a defensible set of standards, usually by application or exam.
Usually listed on a resume detailing education;
may issue a document to hang on the wall.
Typically results in a designation to use after one’s name (CRM, CA, PMP.); may result in a document to hang or to keep in a wallet.
Is the end result; demonstrates knowledge of course content at the end of a set period in time. Has ongoing requirements in order to maintain; holder must demonstrate he/she continues to meet requirements.
May provide the basis and gateway for achieving a degree. No relationship with attaining higher education or degree.